Tuesday, June 12, 2007

University of Zambia Students Protest Over Continuing Faculty Strike

UNZA students riot

Zambian Daily Mail

UNIVERSITY of Zambia students last night rioted and attempted to stone cars on the Great East Road which they had blocked to demonstrate against the on-going strike by lecturers.

Quick action by police prevented students from damaging cars as panicky motorists who were caught up in the confusion attempted to escape.

Police commanding officer for Lusaka, Wasakaza Ng’uni, who led the police operation said the police had managed to drive the students back into campus but would remain there overnight to ensure no violence was poured onto the streets.

After retreating into campus, the students continued with solidarity songs denouncing management and Government over the strike.

Mr Ngu’ni, who was still at the university by 19:30 hours, said the police would deal with students who would get to the road to try and smash vehicles.

“We have managed to push the students back into the main campus.

But should they get back to the road in an attempt to smash vehicles, the police will face them squarely.

The officers are very ready to face the students,” Mr Ng’uni warned.

The student riot caused traffic jam as police sealed off the Great East Road at Arcades and Munali roundabouts to stop vehicles from reaching the Great East Road campus from either side.

UNZA Lecturers and Researchers Union (UNZALARU) resolved to press on with the go-slow after they failed to reach an agreement with management.

UNZALARU general-secretary, Fenson Mwape, confirmed in an interview yesterday that the union met in the morning and resolved to continue with the go-slow because the situation from last week had not changed.

He said UNZALARU members wanted a general improvement in the conditions of service, which had been stuck for four years now.

Dr Mwape also noted that the way information was moving had also derailed the quick process of the negotiations.

But the schools of Law and Natural Sciences remain functional during the strike.

Some students talked to feared that the lecturers' go-slow would trigger a demonstration because students from other schools were upset that their colleagues were learning when they were not.

“Today,” said one student in the morning, “it seems people will definitely go wild because our colleagues from schools of Natural Sciences and School of Law are learning.”

“It is not fair that we have all paid but others are learning while others are not.

The lecturers should just be given what is due to them," said Naomi Mwita, a second-year student.

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